In an overwhelming and bipartisan show of support, 124 out of 200 Massachusetts Representatives and Senators have signed on as co-sponsors to a bill that would better enable nursing facilities to meet the needs of their residents and employees.
The Commonwealth’s nursing facilities face dire financial and staffing challenges. According to an analysis of the most recent government data, nearly 60% of the state’s 410 nursing facilities are operating on negative budgets. The nursing facility provider community had a cumulative loss of $62 million according to the report.
A nursing facility’s ability to invest in quality resident care and in frontline staff is directly linked to state funding, since two-thirds of nursing facility residents have their care paid for by MassHealth. Currently, MassHealth reimburses facilities $37 per day below the cost of providing quality resident care. This gap has increased from $21 per day in 2007 making Massachusetts the fourth worst in the nation for underfunding quality nursing facility care.
Because three-quarters of a nursing facility’s budget is used to fund employee wages and benefits, a facility’s ability to invest in staff is directly tied to state funding. Chronic MassHealth underfunding and cuts have resulted in little investments in the nursing facility skilled workforce, making it extremely difficult to attract and retain staff. Currently 1 in 7 nursing positions remains unfilled.
Senate Docket 977 and House Docket 2510, sponsored by Senator Harriette Chandler and Representative Thomas Golden, Jr. would begin the process of reinvesting in nursing facility resident care and staff, by amending state law to require MassHealth to update funding for quality nursing home care to more accurately reflect the true cost of caring for Medicaid residents.
“We are grateful for the tremendous support and leadership from the 124 lawmakers who, on behalf of the more than 150,000 individuals who live and work in the Commonwealth’s nursing facilities, recognize the importance of investing in quality nursing facility care,” said Tara Gregorio, President of the Massachusetts Senior Care Association (MSCA). “Closing the gap between MassHealth funding and the cost of quality resident care is vital to ensuring that vulnerable elders who can no longer live safely in the community have access to high quality nursing facility care.”
A recently released survey shows an overwhelming majority of MA residents believe providing adequate funding for skilled nursing facilities and their workers should be a legislative priority.
- As the Baby Boomer population becomes the fastest growing in the state, 81% of Massachusetts voters say they ‘believe increased funding for nursing home care and direct care staff is a priority,’ and that ‘cuts are not an option.’
- 76% of Massachusetts residents would support legislation to fund a pathway to a living wage for direct care workers in skilled nursing facilities.
ABOUT MSCA: The Massachusetts Senior Care Association represents a diverse set of organizations that deliver a broad spectrum of services to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. Its members include more than 400 nursing and rehabilitation facilities, assisted living residences, residential care facilities and continuing care retirement communities. Forming a crucial link in the continuum of care, Mass Senior Care facilities provide housing, health care and support services to more than 120,000 people a year; employ more than 77,000 staff members; and contribute more than $4 billion annually to the Massachusetts economy.